The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to pick 19th overall in the 2017 NFL draft. Usually, a team would like to pick the best player available that also meets their needs. Sometimes that player is there. Sometimes the team reaches for a player. Sometimes a team just settles for a player. Other times, though, a team may trade down.
For example, in 2016, the Tennessee Titans owned the first overall pick. There was a slew of talent available for the Titans at first overall, including some quarterbacks such as Jared Goff and Carson Wentz. The Titans already drafted their quarterback of the future in 2015 in Marcus Mariota. Instead of settling on one player in 2016, Tennessee was able to turn that one pick into six.
These Titans dug deep to come away with an explosion of riches in the draft. The picks they received were a first rounder (15th), two second rounders (43rd and 45th), and a third rounder (76th) in the 2016 draft. Also, Tennessee received two more picks from the same trading partner in the 2017 draft, a first round pick (5th) and a third round pick (69th). It is safe to say that Titans made out like the Clampetts.
The Bucs are not in such a luxury position like the Titans, but they are in a precarious one. There are possibly two talents that Bucs can select at 19 that would meet BPA and need, and both of them are wide receivers: Clemson's Mike Williams and Western Michigan's Corey Davis. The only way either one of these players reaches the ‘Bay is if they drop to the 19th pick. Daniel Jeremiah's Top 50 prospects of 2017 has them ranked eighth and ninth respectively.
At the 19th pick, the Bucs may have increased their pool of choice for adding talent to the roster. This is the start of a range where pick location and talent are somewhat interchangeable, provided that neither Davis nor Williams drops. Although the swashbuckling team does have needs, they are not desperate to fulfill needs - I have selective amnesia when it comes to the latter parts of the 2nd round of 2016. There is no need to reach for a player because the Bucs are not one player away from becoming dominant.
Right about now is where one would be querying what exactly does the author mean that the range of pick location and talent are interchangeable? That is a very good question. Kevin Meers wrote an article titled "How to Value NFL Draft Picks" with over 25 years of collected data of Career Approximate Value, the production of a player's career.
From the Career Approximate Value over Average chart above, the two lines that we need to focus are the black line and blue line graphs. The black line graph shows a smooth regression curve from the first pick to the 221st pick based on production based upon that draft pick location. It is a smooth curve because it is finding the average of the whole. For actual production results per pick location, we look at the blue line graph, which is why it looks very erratic.
It is within that blue line graph that we want to inspect and why it supports ‘the range of pick location and talent are interchangeable' notion at the 19th pick overall. First, find the talent CAV level at the 21st pick. Then, compare that to the talent CAV level for the 31st and 36th picks. The latter two picks have a higher CAV level than the former, 21st pick overall. The CAV percentage range, the vertical axis, of 200 - 250% starts around pick 18 to pick 46.
Tampa Bay's GM, Jason Licht, has said often about building through the draft. From a historical standpoint, Licht can add another draft pick without the cost of talent level dropping within a certain range. While it might not be as dynamic as Tennessee dropping down from first overall in 2016, the Bucs can still add one more weapon if neither Davis nor Williams drops out of the top 18 picks by dropping down as well.
Maybe the 19th pick be like the second pick in the next tier of talent, according to the CAV over Average, of course?